Finding a sponsor in AA is considered a critical step in completing the 12 steps to recovery. And if you don’t live in a large city, it can feel incredibly challenging to find a sponsor. In this blog post, we break down how to find an AA sponsor with five easy steps.
The Challenge of Finding a Sponsor
There is always a challenge to getting an AA sponsor. Essentially, you need to find someone you’re compatible with and feel comfortable opening up to about your past indiscretions and biggest fears and trust them to be there for you in your times of need. That’s quite a tall order for a stranger.
Unfortunately, AA sponsorship is particularly challenging in remote areas. The anonymity of your AA sponsor is vital. After all, anonymous is in the very name of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. You don’t want to have a sponsor who’s connected to any part of your life, for a variety of reasons.
First, you might not be ready to share with people in your life that you’re an alcoholic or that you’re trying for recovery. Both of these are private details, and if your sponsor is connected to people in your life, you may be concerned the information will get out.
Or, you might need to share and discuss actions you’ve taken in the past. This could include talking about ways you’ve hurt people. You need a third party who is not involved to provide insight and listen without judgment. If your AA sponsor knew the people you were talking about, it could cloud their advice or opinion of you.
So, a completely anonymous AA sponsor is critical. In towns where everyone knows each other, this becomes almost impossible. Luckily, there are still ways you can get the right sponsor if you know how to approach the situation.
How to Find an AA Sponsor in Five Easy Steps
How do you find a sponsor? Follow these five steps.
1. Go to Meetings (Virtually or In Person)
More and more AA meetings are going virtual. Online AA meetings hold several benefits, such as:
- People can connect from remote areas without worrying about transportation or making it on time after work.
- People from remote areas can connect with others if there isn’t an established AA cohort in their town.
- Participants can genuinely remain anonymous by using a fake screen name and not turning their webcam on.
- Individuals have more options. If they join an online meeting and find the group isn’t working for them, they have countless more to choose from. Additionally, for people who work odd work hours, online meetings provide options that fit any schedule.
Whether you choose to attend AA meetings online or in person, the first step in getting an AA sponsor is attending meetings. Sponsors are people who are fully committed to the AA program. Generally speaking, they have successfully completed the 12 steps themselves and have some time of sobriety under their belts. The program has worked for them, and they want to help those who are on the same path.
You will only find an AA sponsor at AA meetings. They believe in the program because they have been through it, too. Even if you were to find an AA sponsor outside of AA meetings, they would likely heavily request that you attend meetings for your own benefit. As a result, it’s essential to start attending meetings as soon as you’re ready for AA recovery.
2. Listen for Compatibility
Your AA sponsor will be someone you spend a lot of time with and get comfortable with. So, you want to find someone compatible with your personality. When you attend meetings and listen to individuals share their stories, listen for two things: compatibility in character and experiences.
First, you want to make sure you’ll get along with the person you’re trusting to guide you through your AA recovery. If you don’t like them as a person, you won’t want to reach out to them in a time of need.
Second, you’ll also want to (if possible) find an individual who has somewhat similar experiences to yours. AA has a popular term known as “terminal uniqueness.’ This phrase refers to the false belief many alcoholics have that their addiction and experience are unlike anyone else’s. Most likely, this isn’t the case. And, if you can find a sponsor who has some similar experiences with addiction, you’ll find it easier to open up to them. They will also likely have valuable insights for you as they’ve been down a similar path.
Whether you attend virtual or in-person AA meetings, really listen when others share. Keep it top of mind that you’re looking for a compatible sponsor, and consider every individual who speaks to be a potential candidate.
When you attend meetings, it’s essential to participate. Make it clear that you’re taking your recovery seriously and you’re looking for help. AA is an incredibly supportive network. Once you share that you’re searching for a sponsor, you’ll probably find many people reaching out trying to help you find the right match.
4. Educate Yourself
There is a likelihood you won’t find a sponsor (or the right sponsor) right away. As a result, many people get frustrated during their journey. You can help yourself by educating yourself along the way. Take the time to learn everything you can about your addiction, the 12 steps and the AA program. Until you find a sponsor, learn how to be your own guide in the recovery process.
It’s also important to educate yourself on why you need a sponsor. This will just be a gentle reminder of all your sponsor can do for you. That way, if you get frustrated and think about giving up the search, you’ll remember all the benefits of finding the right sponsor.
5. Put Yourself Out There
If you identify someone you feel is compatible, it will often be up to you to approach them. People can’t read minds and often don’t want to assume you want them to sponsor you. Once you have a candidate in mind, be ready to ask them to be your sponsor.
Also, guard yourself and be prepared for rejection. Some individuals may feel they’re not equipped to be a sponsor without it taking a toll on their recovery. Or, some may already have too many individuals they’re sponsoring. Whatever the case, understand that you shouldn’t take a no personally and be prepared to move on.
How a Sponsor Helps You
Now you know how to find an AA sponsor, but are you convinced you need to? An AA sponsor is your support system as you navigate the incredibly difficult journey of recovery. Just some of the ways your AA sponsor will help you are:
- Provide valuable insights, tips and shared experiences as they’ve been through the program
- Offer learning experiences on how they were able to complete the program
- Be there for you in times of crisis without judgment
- Provide inspiration about what life looks like post-addiction
- Be honest with you, even if it hurts
- Point out when you seem to be on the verge of relapse or are participating in destructive behaviors
Now that you know how to find an AA sponsor, it may be time to consider enrolling in a professional treatment program. Alcohol addiction is a disease that usually requires professional intervention for recovery. At FHE Health, we’re experts at helping patients move past their addiction. You can speak to one of our counselors by calling (833) 596-3502.